Kevin Marti and Frank Dick took time today to share their unique experiences visiting the WWII Memorial in Washington, part of the Honor Flight on Flag Day which honors the brave men and women of our military who served during that time! Kevin took the podium first and said that prior to taking the trip, he participated in over 3 hours of training in Findlay to prepare to be Frank’s “Guardian” during the trip.
He proceeded to show a number of great slides of himself and Frank taken throughout the trip. He said that the day started at the Toledo Grand Air Express terminal at 6am sharp where everyone assembled. They flew direct to the Balltimore/Washington Airport where some 1,000 people greeted them. Among the greeters was Congressman Jordan of Ohio, Kevin said, but Congressman Wahlberg, unfortunately, was not able to attend.
While in D.C. Kevin and Frank visited the Korean War, Iwo Jima and the Viet Nam Memorials. At the Viet Nam Memorial they found the name of the brother of former Gleaner director Bill Warner who was killed in that war.
Frank began his segment of the presentation by telling us that he was just 18 years old when he joined the military.  Actually, it was his sophomore year that he went to the draft board to tell them he was ready to enlist yet his parents were not at all happy so were able to convince the board to agree to wait 2 more years. The very day after graduation he was at the armory in Bowling Green to begin his military career! His experiences at this young age, he said, were amazing.
He went through 15 weeks of basic training and from there boarded a ship with 10,000 other soldiers on a 7-day trip to Camp Miles Standish. He spent 3 days in Hampton, England before heading to France where he said he rode the 40 & 8 Box Car! December of 1944, Frank said, marked the start of the infamous Battle of the Bulge and there he was, Frank said, at 18 years old assigned the position of a mortar specialist.
In February of the following year, Frank said he was wounded and treated with sulfa drugs and penicillin. His wounds were so severe that they sent Frank back to England for surgery on his arm. Shortly thereafter, Frank was on his way back to the states to Newton Baker Hospital in West Virginia and then sent home for 3 months before he had to return to the hospital for a checkup.
Once Frank was on his feet, he returned home and started working at REA Electric at 19 as a meter reader. When he met with officers to be officially discharged from the military, they advised him not to go to work because he was going to get a pension and working would reduce the amount he would be getting from the military. Frank did not think this was the greatest advice so decided instead to enroll at Bowling Green State University. Consequently, it was the government through the GI Bill that paid for Frank’s education. He took 17 credit hours each semester he was there allowing him to graduate in just two years and eleven months! His portion of the entire bill, he said, was only $72!
Frank closed by saying that two things in particular stand out as being truly memorable in his lifetime: Number one, of course, was his wife, Shirley, the love of his life for encouraging him to pursue a college degree! Number two was the opportunity to serve 32 years as a public school superintendent. “What a life I’ve had”, he said. Frank closed by thanking Kevin for traveling with him on the Honor Flight saying “it must have been a chore for him”! He encouraged each of us to make things happen for our children and grandchildren while we have the opportunity. He said that Rotary was a great organization. He’s been a member for 59 years! He closed with these very significant words of wisdom: “Do all the good you can; in all the ways that you can; to all the people you can; as long as you ever can!
Thanks Frank and Kevin for one truly outstanding presentation!